3 Key Tips & Techniques for the Elite Attackman

It’s no secret that an attackman in lacrosse must excel at more than just catching and shooting in order to be a triple-threat player. In this week’s player development feature, learn from one of the game’s finest instructors as Duke men’s lacrosse coach John Danowski breaks down key concepts when playing behind the cage, without the ball, and on the transition fast break. If a player can become proficient in these areas, they’ll likely be on their way towards establishing themselves as an elite playmaker in the game.

Playing Behind the Cage

Once we have the ball behind the cage, this is where we want to be a dodger. First, it’s key to build an attitude and turn the corner. In order to turn the corner, it’s crucial that we get that far shoulder ending up facing the right pipe. Also, look to do this with both hands.

Next, once you have a step on the defender, remember to not slow down. Keep sprinting while turning the corner. If you beat your defender, they’ll likely be trailing just behind you and could look to do a wrap or trail check. Therefore, it’s vital that you’re careful and that you don’t expose your stick to the defender. Keep that stick in front of the body.


Transition Fast Break

There are three important positions to keep in mind when running the transition fast break: the point man, the right-handed shooter, and the left-handed shooter. The point man must run the show. Be sure to set up about 16-18 yards above the GLE or 3-4 steps inside the restraining line. The key is to move the ball and not stand still. If you do stand still, you will give away to the defense where you’re going to be.

However, by moving the ball, you become more athletic, you can receive the ball on the move, and it will open up the field for you. Your first thought should always be to take a shot, but your second thought should be to look for the right or left shooters. Watch the following demo to see proper techniques for moving the ball and taking shots off the point on the fast break.

Another key technique to remember is to follow the slide. This means that when your man leaves you to go play the guy with the ball, you can’t stand still. Rather, you must follow him and move up to the ball. First, it provides a larger area to shoot. And second, it prevents the defenseman from drawing a straight line.

Meanwhile, the complete attackman also needs to know all positions on the break, from how to handle the point, how to move to the ball, how to look to shoot or feed, how to come up the hash, how to follow the slide as a righty, or how to read the point defender as a lefty.

This player should also be able to post up in order to receive the ball from the point man. If the defender is slow getting back, you should be able to maneuver a cross-handed catch inside on the crease. Watch the following clip to see these moves in action.


Playing without the Ball

The majority of the game is played without the ball. Therefore as an attackman, you need to understand your position on the field and what you need to do in relation to where the ball is. There are some simple rules to follow regardless of your own offensive system.

First, if the man with the ball comes towards you, clear through. Next, if the man with the ball goes away from you, follow the ball.

As you clear through, never lose sight of the ball. You never know when your defender will leave you or whether you can break free and get open. Always have your stick in your upfield hand and be looking to make a play and be a scorer.

By following your teammate, you also provide an outlet for a player who may get double-teamed, is fatigued, or simply needs an outlet. Watch the clip below of three attackman playing together with these rules in mind.

When adjacent to the ball carrier, your job is to clear through. But if your defender decides to leave you and double team the ball, you can also execute a fish hook move where you put on the brakes, stop, and come back to the ball with the stick in your upfield hand. Watch the fish hook in action against a near-man slide. This also gives your teammate an opportunity to shoot the ball.


The above clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Becoming a Champion: The Attackman” featuring John Danowski. To check out more videos highlighting attackmen and offensive drills, click here.

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